“And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept and mourned certain days and fasted and prayed before the God of Heaven and said, ‘I beseech You, O Lord God of Heaven, the great and terrible God, that keeps covenant and mercy for them that love Him and observe His commandments: Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open that You may hear the prayer of Your servant, which I pray before You now day and night’. . .”
When our prayers rise from the depths of our soul, we should not wonder His response.
“Let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open.”
Such a simple request from Nehemiah’s lips; yet, we should never doubt their effectiveness, for they spring from one with a childlike spirit. Too often we try to impress the Lord with our flowery—yea, superfluous—words, forgetting that such praying is odious to Him.
Nehemiah’s prayer sprang from great agony of soul and anguish of mind over the dismal conditions that still existed in his beloved Jerusalem. The first group released from Babylonian captivity under Cyrus’ decree had left some 94 years before (538 B.C.); yet, “the wall of Jerusalem was still broken down and the burned-out gates still not replaced” (v.3).
He shouldn’t have been surprised—especially when he learned that Ezra had returned four years before he prayed today’s Manna and discovered “none of the sons of Levi” were even there (Ezra 8:15)! God’s work always suffers when His leaders are negligent in their responsibilities or are just as sinful as those whom they seek to lead.
Regardless, Nehemiah. . .who worked as the official cupbearer/wine-taster for the Persian king, Artaxerxes (2:1). . .was heartbroken over the “great affliction and reproach of the remnant that remained in captivity” (1:3a) and the unfinished wall and gates in Jerusalem.
That’s why he “wept, mourned, fasted and prayed for certain days.”
When we see the work of God in disarray, it should grieve us. When we see others unconcerned over the furtherance of God’s Kingdom (or their own sinfulness), it should burden us. When we see those who profess Christ “crucifying Him afresh and putting Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:6b), we should react as Nehemiah did.
But, instead of continuing to be downcast, discouraged, dismayed, depressed, etc., we should cry out to God—asking His forgiveness and cleansing for our sins and those around us (vv.5-11)—and then seek to do what we can to rectify the wrongs where we can.
And, we should never wonder if the Heavenly Father’s “ear will be attentive and His eyes open to our prayers.” This was the request Solomon made at the dedication of the Temple (II Chron. 6:20) and should also be our fervent plea when we go to Him in prayer. Such praying should always be straightforward (“we have sinned against You. . .dealt very corruptly against You and not kept Your commandments. . .”—vv.6c-7a), simple and sincere. He already knows what we’ve done and need; however, praying this way will ensure that we know what we’ve done and need. May the Spirit help us to “humble ourselves today, pray, seek His Face and turn from our wicked ways” (II Chron. 7:14). That way we’ll know how He’ll respond.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated September 7, 2009